The BBC has been under the spotlight in the last week. With good reason. Because the supposedly impartial broadcaster is looking more and more like a cheerleader for Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party by the day.
In other words, it’s become nothing short of propaganda. And this is something we urgently need to talk about because this is not okay.
How do you take your jam?
On the day Jeremy Corbyn released comprehensive documents about the trade deal the UK government is preparing to do with the US, which explicitly does not exclude the possibility of US companies running NHS services and shows officials are at an “advanced stage” of discussing whether the health service will face a massive hike in the price it pays for drugs, BBC Politics thought the appropriate response was to show Johnson eating scones. Yes, our NHS might be for sale, but let’s make sure we cover the crucial issue of the day – do you put jam or cream on a scone first:
“The reason for putting the jam on first is because jam is adhesive”
Conservative leader Boris Johnson prepares a scone, saying, when asked about the correct order of jam and cream, that he "couldn't remember, so I guessed"https://t.co/lbGIAxEpOv pic.twitter.com/9DKu3krqqT
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 27, 2019
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Trawling through the BBC Politics Twitter feed over the last week, I couldn’t find comparable stories about Jeremy Corbyn. As comedian Mark Thomas pointed out:
Really? Eating a scone? This is a political story? Seriously? And you might wonder why so many people accuse the Beeb of political bias. JC gets Andrew Neil and Johnson gets a scone.
— Mark Thomas (@markthomasinfo) November 27, 2019
Meanwhile, journalist Paul Mason added this perspective:
What else did the Dear Leader do today, David Jordan and Fran Unsworth? https://t.co/RP7GELiYU8
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) November 27, 2019
But it’s not just about jam
The problem is this is just one example among so many. And it’s why #BBCImpartiality trended on Twitter on 28 November. The BBC eventually admitted it got it wrong in editing out the full audience response to Johnson in a lunchtime news item on the Question Time leadership debate. But by then, the damage was done. Furthermore, the BBC published its mistake in its “Entertainment & Arts” section, not on its politics pages.
Moreover, the BBC doesn’t appear to learn from its so-called mistakes. Just days after the audience controversy, it was embroiled in another scandal. This time because Andrew Neil’s hectoring interview with Corbyn took place before Johnson had even agreed to take part in the series of leaders’ interviews. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell was not impressed:
Johnson’s running scared after his disastrous debate performances. But he’s playing the BBC. He’s delaying interview past main postal vote period. With doctored film & now this, the BBC is hardly covering itself in glory in this election. It should’ve fixed all dates in advance. https://t.co/A6hWRlX675
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) November 27, 2019
Commenting on this, journalist James O’Brien nailed everything that’s wrong with the establishment media:
If the chairman of the Spectator (@afneil) really can’t get an interview with the ex-editor of the Spectator (@BorisJohnson), he could always ask the current deputy editor to have a word with her husband (Dominic Cummings). Barclay brothers permitting, of course. #bbcimpartiality
— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) November 27, 2019
Enough is enough!
The BBC claims it is:
committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output.
According to its charter, meanwhile, it should:
provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: the BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world.
The scone story is far from “impartial”, especially given there was no equivalent stories about Corbyn.
But bias can also be nuanced. As The Canary previously reported, this was recently highlighted in the way it treated two stories on the Today programme about MPs saying they wouldn’t vote for their former political parties. And it was shown in the pitiful excuses it gave for showing the wrong footage of Johnson on Remembrance Day.
Enough is enough! It’s time to stop paying the licence fee. And it’s time to switch off the BBC for good. We need to stop pretending or making excuses for the broadcaster. With two weeks until a general election, it is pumping out propaganda for Boris Johnson. And this, quite simply, is not good enough.
Featured image via Flickr/Tara Hunt
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